Zion History Snippets

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope.           Romans 15:4

One of Zion’s most treasured memories (for some) and stories (for all) is “the walk” from Zion’s previous building, “Old Zion” to this new church in 1963. Dreams for a new building began in 1956 when the 5th Street and Gilman property was purchased. Groundbreaking was on April 1, 1962 and the building was completed in April of 1963 for approximately $198,000.00. The congregation formally processed from Old Zion to New Zion on Palm Sunday, April 14, 1963 for the first worship service. The total attendance for the two services that day exceeded 700 people. Over the years multiple changes have resulted in a beautiful edifice. Sunday School rooms, also used for Kids of the Kingdom Childcare, were added and the patio area was enclosed around Fellowship Court in 1984. The chancel and sacristy were enlarged and additional offices and multipurpose rooms were added in 1994. In 2005 Crossroads, a large reception and secondary worship space, was built along with remodeled office spaces and a youth room. In 2021 Zion’s kitchen was upgraded to commercial status, an auxiliary kitchen was added and Larson Hall was updated.


So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ.   Romans 10:17

Worshipping records at Zion show that in 1922 there were 45 services in Norwegian and 45 services in English. Often the preaching was quite lengthy on topics like “How does the Lord Keep His Promise to Give Rest Unto Those Who Labor and are Heavy Laden?” or “Everyone That Exalteth Himself Shall be Humbled, and He That Humbleth Himself Shall be Exalted.” Today’s much shorter sermon might have the brief title “Ageless Wonder” or “The Sky is Falling.” In 1960 Zion began to offer two Sunday morning worship times. Over the years these two services have utilized different worship styles and formats and have increasingly incorporated lay leadership.


Train up a child in the way he should go. Even when he is old He will not depart from it.  Proverbs 22:6

At one time the cornerstone of Christian education was two shifts of Sunday School classes filling every classroom every Sunday morning, while now it manifests itself in family-centered and intergenerational activities. For many years Zion was known for “Release Time” programming for school age children. Christmas programming for youth and families has been seen in youth productions, Happy Birthday Jesus programs and Old Fashioned Christmas activities. Faith formation is present in multiple Bible studies, women’s groups and age-specific youth groups

Zion’s Organ

The power and beauty of a pipe organ raises our spirits, it lifts our minds and hearts and it inspires our lives. With its rich resources, the organ helps explain sacred mysteries, reveals divine grace and stirs our deepest emotions. The unleashing of an organs possibilities/power can move us to tears; it can console grief and can enhance our joy.  It has been said that no other form of music acts so powerfully as an instrument of both meditation and celebration. For the organists the organ sets the mood and helps to unify your singing. It is exciting for me as well as our other organists to hear the congregation sing each Sunday.  Zion is very blessed to have 4 organists, which is very rare these days. They are myself, Peg Hatlestad, Dorothy Stenberg and Stephanie VanDerBill.

The organ at Zion Lutheran church is approaching its 50th anniversary.  It was dedicated on May 20,1973, with a recital by Kathryn Ulvilden Moen. Ms Moen was a very well known and accomplished organist in the Midwest.  At the time she was the primary organist at Northwestern Theological Seminary.  The organ was built by the company Casavant Freres, Lte. of St Hyacinthe, Quebec.  At the time of the dedication this company had been associated with the building of fine pipe organs for 130 years.  The organ was originally built for the Convent of the Sacred Heart, in Noroton Connecticut in 1967 and purchased by our church when their school ceased operation.  It was installed at Zion to fit into the architecture of the building. The instrument is a two manual (keyboards) organ of 15 stops comprising 20 ranks of pipes, with a total of 1036 pipes.  Some of these pipes are 16 feet in length.  Production of this organ itself would have taken approximately 4 months. In design the organ is essentially traditional. We have been told that if we were to buy this as a new organ the price tag would be around $580,000.  It is a very valuable instrument. Our beautiful organ has been a blessing to Zion for many years by leading and inspiring our congregation in prayer, praise and song.  It is the heart of Zion’s music life and our worship.